Get used to it: Danica-mania here to stay

February 9, 2010, 5:08 PM

By: Eddie Gossage

Now ... NASCAR racing ... all Danica Patrick, all the time!

Is that a good thing or a bad thing? It seems to me there is a lot of Danica hate out there. What did she do ... Spit on the star at Cowboys Stadium?

After hearing from major disgruntlement across the NASCAR nation (and no sport wants its fans "gruntled" more than NASCAR), I posed that question on my Facebook page. The response was interesting.

As it turns out, the overwhelming majority -- whether they realized it or not -- revealed they were not unhappy with Danica, but they were unhappy with the media. I thought only sports figures and politicians blamed the media for their problems. Now I find out the fans do, too.

"It's the hate of the media loving Danica," wrote one person. "We resent that she gets press for no reason other than she's a girl," said another. And another: "Just way too overdone on the part of the media."

Well, folks, is that Danica's fault? Danica doesn't write the stories. She simply is the story.

These things are news: Man bites dog. Chicken crosses road. Girl (especially pretty girl) beats man.

And Danica is doing better than many of the men. She's the only woman ever to have won an IndyCar race. She's scored 16 top-fives finishes and 46 top-10 finishes in 81 career Indy Car starts. And in her first -- FIRST -- stock car race, she finished sixth. That's a highly successful record. That's news folks.

I didn't see any women playing in the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, but if there had been one, it would have been bigger news than Drew Brees or Sean Payton. This woman is playing a game in a men's sport and doing it successfully. And she's not hitting from the women's tees.

One interesting fact about those Facebook responses, too. Sixty-three percent were from women. That means that the ladies are interested and following Danica -- whether they are complimenting or complaining about her. And as Dale Earnhardt Sr., told me one day, "I don't care whether they cheer or boo. The only time I get concerned is when they are quiet when they hear your name."

Earnhardt was right. Just make some noise, baby!

Others said they don't like the sexy marketing of Danica. She has appeared in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit edition twice and several suggestive GoDaddy.com commercials. And while I understand those concerns, I didn't hear anybody calling Carl Edwards out when he appeared oiled-up in a "beefcake" pose on the cover of ESPN The Magazine. Shouldn't it be a two-way street? What's good for Carl should be good for Danica.

So here's a couple of truths about "Danica-mania."

The media that I talked with in Daytona this week isn't pleased with their 24/7 coverage of Danica, but they know it's news.

Television viewership of the ARCA race in Daytona was up 59 percent from a year ago. The race got a 2.3 rating according to Nielsen, showing in 1,723,000 homes. People care.

It ain't going to change. Get used to it.

Danica-Danica-Danica! Coming to a speedway near you.

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